This post was written as a sponsored post for Organize-It. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
Laundry can be the most exhausting, monotonous, mundane chore ever. And you can’t escape it–it’s always there. Just when you finally get all caught up with it, the cycle starts all over again. I’m not going to lie–I have even cried about it more than once. The time that stands out most in my mind was when I first became a mother. My baby girl was screaming on the floor next to me (because she never seemed to stop crying), and I was frantically working to get orange baby food stains out of her clothing. My knuckles were dry, cracked, and bleeding from all the laundry I’d been scrubbing because she seemed to spit up almost everything that went in. I stood crammed behind the door of our laundry room at that sink more than I’d like to recall at that stage in my life. I even remember looking down at my precious (yet amazingly vocal) child and saying out loud as tears streamed down my cheeks, “I went to Harvard for this?!” College degree or not, let’s face it–doing the laundry just plain sucks…
There probably aren’t many of us out there who actually like doing the laundry. Of course we all feel satisfied when it’s done and in its place (which lasts for all of 37 seconds), and it can even be somewhat therapeutic at times. For example, I actually don’t mind folding laundry while having an HGTV marathon playing in front of me at night when the house is quiet. Give me a glass of wine, and I might even go so far as to say it’s relaxing. (Now sitting on the couch doing nothing with a glass of wine in hand while watching The Bachelorette sounds even better, but you know what I’m saying…) I think if we’re honest about it, the laundry is just something we all have to do, so let’s just figure out how to deal with it positively and go on about our day.
Ten years have gone by since I stood bawling in my laundry room with my daughter crying next to me. I have learned a lot since then about this homemaking thing, and I’m certainly more efficient when it comes to the laundry. I’m one of those people who likes to knock things out in the most effective way possible–I don’t like wasted efforts. There’s too much fun to be had each day, so if I can find a way to do something in one hour that used to take me three, well, then I’m going to do it. As a result, I find that I constantly revise my systems (for the laundry or otherwise) until I feel like things are as manageable as possible. (Hence, the reason I wrote this post with over 100 ideas to help you organize your home and your life. Simply put, I like efficiency. With that said, do I actually DO and KEEP UP with everything I suggest in that post? Absolutely not. They are ideas. I do my best, like everybody else, to stay on top of things. If you knew me personally, you’d know that my house is very rarely neat as a pin. But it’s a happy home and it’s lived in–our homes aren’t meant to be museums, after all, so cut yourself some slack, too!) :)
As for the laundry, I’ve come a long way. My knuckles aren’t dry and cracked anymore since I very rarely scrub anything these days. (And if I do, I have learned to wear gloves. Duh! I should have figured that one out sooner!) My laundry gets washed and dried without much stress (or even much effort, quite honestly) throughout the week, and my kids’ rooms are cleaner than ever before with fewer dirty clothes on the floor. The hardest thing for me is still getting things folded and put away, but even that has become manageable now because I’ve finally learned to ask for help.
If you’re where I was years ago and the laundry makes you feel completely overwhelmed, I hope this post is helpful. I don’t claim to have it all figured out by any means, but through trial and error over the years, I’ve definitely found some shortcuts that save me a lot of time and energy. Some of these ideas might seem very basic, but I wanted to share absolutely everything that I do now with the hope that perhaps a few of these tips might jump out at you. I’m happy to say that I haven’t cried about the never-ending laundry in a long, long time! It’s not going anywhere, so we might as well figure out how to be friends!
Use a Divided Laundry Sorter with Color-Coded Tags for Kids
This is my #1 tip!!
If you don’t do anything on this list except make this one easy change, you will be in much better shape around your house! I used to have hampers in every single bedroom, and I’d end up with an enormous mountain of laundry when I’d get around to finally collecting it all throughout the house. I then had to sort everything, and looking at those huge piles in my hallway (because it couldn’t fit in my tiny laundry room) would totally ruin my day. Ugh–it felt like so much to do! Especially for a burned-out, sleep-deprived mom trying to keep it all together.
When I finally started pre-sorting my laundry in a rolling rack like the one below, my life changed! Seriously. It’s such a simple change, but it will make your life so much easier! As slots fill up, you just toss that load in. It’s already pre-sorted and ready to go in the washing machine. It takes one minute to get a load started. I keep one rack like this in our master closet for my husband and me, and I have one in the laundry room for everybody else. It’s all pre-sorted throughout the house this way, and it makes doing the laundry a breeze.
USE COLOR-CODED TAGS
I also printed some color-coded tags on cardstock (print the ones I used here), and I cut them down and stapled them on the bags. That way my kids just have to match the colors on the words to know where to place their own laundry. They are responsible for getting their own clothing into the sorter even before they’re old enough to read. You’d be surprised by how proud this makes the little ones–they love putting things in the right slot!
DO NOT GET A CHEAP SORTER! THAT’S A MISTAKE!
I recently had to replace the divided sorters I ordered from Hold Everything years ago because the bags were shot after so much use (remember that company? I loved their catalog, but they closed their doors.) Since the company no longer existed, I couldn’t order replacement bags, so I had to get entirely new racks. I got some cheap ones at Wal-Mart, and even though they looked nice, they were very poorly made. They would literally bend at a 45-degree angle when pushed down the hallway. I had to hold the one from our master bedroom together with my hands while I pushed it to the laundry room so the entire thing didn’t break apart. The wheels also constantly fell off. Drove me crazy!!
I LOVE MY NEW LAUNDRY SORTER!
I couldn’t take dealing with my crappy sorters anymore, so I finally got this one (as featured in the ad above, actually!), and I love it. When I push it down our carpeted hallway from our master bedroom to the laundry room, it remains perfectly solid. The wheels stay put, and the bags are large to fit plenty of laundry. (One full slot equals one full load of laundry.) Definitely worth the extra $ compared to the cheap ones I got that are now holding some random stuff in the garage! You definitely want to buy a GOOD one! :) You’ll have it for years and years (you can even buy replacement bags down the line), so it’s worth it to buy one with a frame that’s well-made.
Find the tags shown below for easy printing. Even non-reading kids can sort their laundry correctly to help you, and they’ll feel so proud to put things in the right slot! It’s never too early to start teaching them to pitch in! :) And when you start young, it becomes a habit, too, so there’s less whining–it just becomes part of their daily routine so they really don’t even think about it anymore.
Side note: in our house, you’re also expected to make your bed every day when you turn 5. It’s such a habit at this point for our girls that they’ve even made their beds in hotel rooms without thinking! My third daughter actually couldn’t wait to make her bed on her 5th birthday like her sisters do–it’s like a rite of passing. She came to get me first thing that morning so I could see what she’d done! The covers were touching the floor on one side, and it was all lopsided, but I made a huge deal out of what a great job she did, much to her delight. I never, ever fix their beds because it just makes them feel like they disappointed you. They will get better at it, I promise. My oldest two can make a mean bed now, and even my third daughter is pretty good at this point for a 6-year-old! Try to start young if you can–otherwise, it’s never too late to proclaim this a “rule” in your house. It’s amazing how much neater the house feels as a whole just by having all the beds made each morning (without you having to do it!)
Throw Loads in Throughout the Week
When you have your laundry pre-sorted in a rack like this, it makes it very easy to keep up with things. Simply toss it in the wash when you notice that slot is full. I often start a load of laundry in the morning. It’s become part of my routine now, and the laundry never really mounts up to the point of feeling overwhelming. Below, the darks are ready to be washed. The colors will have a full load in another day or two. Such a simple way to stay on top of everything!
Don’t Use Hampers In Kids’ Rooms–Rooms Stay Neater and You Can Keep a Handle on the Laundry
Before you think I’m crazy for suggesting that you remove the hampers from your children’s bedrooms, hear me out. I stumbled on this system by accident last year, but it has made a huge difference in our house. We did some renovating to make room for Baby #4, and when our older girls shifted rooms, they ended up without hampers for a while for various reasons. Luckily, our laundry room is just down the hallway from their bedrooms, so it was pretty convenient for my kids to walk in there each night and toss their dirty clothes into the divided bins.
I started to realize how much neater their bedrooms were. The dirty laundry was removed each night, so it wasn’t ending up on their floor or hanging out of their hampers. Not only that, but all the laundry was suddenly easier to keep track of–with the exception of my husband’s and my stuff, everything was now in one place. It was so easy to see when I had a full load of laundry now, and I wasn’t having to go room to room to collect it.
I never did put hampers back in their bedrooms, and we haven’t missed them a bit. Now each night when I tuck my girls in bed, we try to take a minute to make sure their floors are picked up. They’re pretty good about tossing the clothes they wore that day into the laundry room bins when they put their pajamas on, but if they forget, I’ll just grab them myself when I say goodnight. It takes me all of five seconds to put them in the laundry sorter. I realize that my laundry room is in a handy spot for me near their bedrooms, but even if yours is further away, it might be worth your time to grab that day’s laundry and head down to your laundry room each night–maybe you even make it a habit to walk around with a laundry basket in your hands. In the long run, it’s really a time-saver to have all the dirty laundry in one place!
Use a Lost Socks Rack or Have a System
I found this lost socks rack last year, and it’s been a great way to keep up with lost socks–and boy, do we have a LOT of them. This picture was taken back when I wrote my massive organization post in January, but I bet I have three times the number of socks on this lost socks rack right now. Seriously, what happens to all the socks?! (It’s probably time I give up on finding a few of the matches…)
I love this lost socks rack because it’s like a piece of art and it’s really sturdy, too, but if you don’t want to spend much on something like this, you could easily make something similar if you’re crafty. Just grab a board, paint it, and glue on some clothespins. I’d love to see what you come up with if you’re the creative type! If nothing else, perhaps you can at least toss your lonely socks in a basket. It’s better than just piling them on top of the dryer anyhow! (My former–and terrible–method!)
Use an Over-the-Door Hanging Rod to Drip-Dry Even the Longest Things
I’ve always had a drying rack in my laundry room, but I’ve never had a good spot to drip-dry men’s shirts or long dresses that couldn’t go in the dryer. I didn’t want to drape them over the drying rack because creases would form. I would typically try to hang them from a hanger on a high cabinet knob, but then it would block the sink. I finally discovered this handy over-the-door hanger bar, and my problem was solved! It now sits on the backside of the door in my laundry room, and it’s the perfect out-of-the-way place for me to drip-dry even my longest dresses!
Keep Basket on Stairs for Dirty Laundry Going Up/Down
I received this stair basket as a gift (so I’m not sure where it came from), but I found a similar one here at Organize-It. Over time, it’s become my place to throw dirty laundry that needs to go upstairs to our laundry room. Since our bedrooms are all on the second floor, my basket is mostly filled with towels and rags from the kitchen, along with dirty clothes my kids empty out of their bags after sports practices. This has been a great way to manage laundry that needs to go to a different floor of the house–when it fills up, I simply grab it and empty it upstairs in the laundry room. It’s an easy way to contain nasty, wet towels from the kitchen and sweaty sports stuff before I have a chance to take it upstairs.
Keep Ironing Board in Your Closet and Iron Just Before Wearing
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand ironing. I just never seem to get to it. I used to have a pile of “ironing” that needed to be done, but basically those clothes would just go unworn for 6 months or longer while the pile sat untouched. I finally moved my ironing board into the closet in our bedroom with the iron up above it on a shelf. Now when I’m getting dressed and something needs ironing, I just iron it quickly then. It seems so much easier to me that way with the ironing board and iron handy in my bedroom. So now I just put things away wrinkled and worry about it later. This change has really helped somebody like me who never seems to get to that pile of ironing!
You could even use an over-the-door ironing board and iron holder to keep things together and off the floor.
Set Up Dry-Cleaning Service to Save Yourself Time
I used to handle bringing in and picking up our dry cleaning. Then one day I looked around and realized that A) 95% of our dry cleaning was my husband’s; B) my husband literally drove right past the dry cleaning place on his way to and from work each day; and C) at the time, I had two small children I was dragging across town each time I ran this errand.
I then did what any wife would do in my situation–I told my husband that he was now officially in charge of the dry cleaning! Sorry, Charlie. Not going to run that errand for you anymore when you could take 90 seconds out of your day to make the pit-stop yourself, whereas it took me at least 25 minutes round-trip with two kids in tow. In his defense, I don’t think he really even thought about it. I just did all the “house stuff” back then as we were still getting used to the whole parent thing. We both soon realized that a stay-at-home mom can’t do everything if she wants to stay sane!
Things are different now, and once my husband’s favorite dry cleaning place closed (he was so loyal to the sweet owners!), he finally caved and set himself up with one of those pick-up/drop-off dry cleaning services that are sprouting up everywhere now. And let me tell you–it’s awesome! He simply puts his dry cleaning bag outside our door twice a week, and the little van drives past to pick it up and drop off anything that’s already ready. It’s ridiculously convenient. If this service is available to you, I highly recommend it! There’s nothing easier than having your dry cleaning arrive at your front door. And being the nice wife that I am, I even carry it upstairs to the closet for him–perfectly pressed shirts and suits now seem to appear like magic!
WASHING TIPS FOR EFFICIENCY
No More Surprise Stains Setting in the Wash–Teach Your Kids to Help
Don’t you hate when you pull something out of the dryer, and you realize there is an enormous stain on it that you didn’t catch? Usually you’re out of luck at that point because the heat has already set the stain. I finally got smart and simply TOLD my kids to set these things aside. That’s all it took–duh! Easy enough. They now put things with stains on top of the washing machine rather than into the laundry sorter–my oldest two (ages 10 and 8) can even spray stain-remover on the spot, and then I eventually put in in the bucket with Borax (see below) if needed.
This is another reason it’s nice that my kids no longer have hampers in their rooms–when they have to physically walk their dirty clothes to the laundry room, they’re more likely to remember that something is stained. It’s really not that hard for them to keep that item separate from the other laundry at that point.
Soak Stains in Bucket with Borax–Scrubbing is Rare
My mom gave me this great tip–Borax works wonders on laundry! I now treat a stain by spraying it with Resolve (or whatever I have handy), and then I put it in a bucket in my sink filled with enough cool water to cover it, along with some Borax. (I just dump some in there–no measurement.) I usually mix things around a bit to distribute the Borax and make the water more soapy. After letting it sit for a while (sometimes even days), it’s amazing to me how I will often pull the item out of the bucket and the stain will already be completely gone with zero scrubbing. I’m talking zero scrubbing, people. If the stain is still there, I might try to work it out with a brush or by rubbing it together with my hands (you can wear gloves if you’d like), but oftentimes I just add some more Borax, maybe some laundry detergent, and then return it to the bucket. After more time, the stain might work its way out on its own. Of course, nothing is fool-proof, but in my experience, this has worked with little (if any) scrubbing on the majority of stains. Music to my ears!!
I usually have at least a few items in the bucket at one time–just be careful if you soak anything where the dye might run. It’s best to have those things in a separate bucket so you don’t dye other garments by mistake.
Use Clorox Bleach Pen to Get Stubborn Stains Out of Whites Easily
These Clorox Bleach Pens are awesome! You have to look for them, or you might miss them at the grocery store. They are like magic when getting stains out of whites. You just squeeze the soapy stuff onto the stain, and you can rub slightly with the brush-like dispenser if you’d like. (I usually use the bigger end, but you can also use the opposite end of the pen with a finer point if you’re trying to contain the bleach so it doesn’t discolor certain spots.)
If something is really a mess, I will soak it in Borax first (see above) and then repeat this cycle and wash it multiple times as needed. If it comes out of the washing machine and I can still see the stain, I will reapply and then wash it again. (Or if I won’t be doing whites for a while, I’ll let the item air-dry without putting it in the dryer, and then I use the Bleach Pen again just prior to washing the next time around.) Even when something has accidentally gone through the dryer, I’ve still managed to get stains out this way most of the time.
Tip: I’ve learned to apply the treatment just before tossing the article into the wash. If you use it too soon and then let the item sit for a while before it goes into the washing machine, the spot will turn yellowish, permanently discoloring the clothing.
Wash Delicates in Washing Machine Using Mesh Bag
I am way too impatient to wash things by hand. I now use mesh bags when I wash my delicates. I simply zip everything inside these great bags and then toss them in the wash like normal. The bag shown below is a great size that can fit a lot of stuff, and it’s perfect for lingerie, pantyhose, slips, etc. You could even wash socks in a bag like this to keep smaller things together.
Tip: I don’t recommend washing things in this bag with small hooks (like a bra) because they can snag on the bag. For the easiest bra-washing and best protection of your bras (they aren’t cheap!), I use a Bra Baby. (See below.)
Forget Washing Bras By Hand–Use a Bra Baby
First of all, I don’t wash my bra every time I wear it. I think that’s pretty normal, so if you wash yours every single time it’s worn, maybe you can save yourself some effort right there and wash it more infrequently. (Unless, of course, you sweat like crazy with whatever your day brings–I only tuck my bra back in my drawer if I haven’t been too active while wearing it.)
Secondly, there is absolutely zero chance that I’m going to wash my bra by hand. That would take too much time and effort, and I’m just not going to do it. I wash my bras in a Bra Baby (they come in a set of two), and they are pretty darn slick. You just snap your bra inside it, and toss that puppy right in the wash. So easy, and your (expensive) bras won’t lose their shape.
Side note: Speaking of bras, I’m always telling my readers that I love this bra, fondly referred to as the “No-Back-Fat Bra” by all my friends and me! I find it to be very flattering as it minimizes bulges on your backside under the armpit – it can be so hard for a bra to fit well there. With the exception of sports bras, this is the only bra I will wear now. It’s so comfortable; the nude color doesn’t show through even thinner white shirts; and it will give you great shape. I bought a larger size in the full-coverage style, and I wore it every single day while pregnant and even post-pregnancy. I found it to be really supportive, and it was the only bra that didn’t feel like it was digging into my back as my body was continually changing. This bra is on the pricey side but totally worth it when you wear it everyday – so that’s another reason I love to use the Bra Baby. I know it’s going to protect my nice bras so they last.
Toss Detergent Cap in the Wash to Prevent Sticky Mess–Comes Out Clean!
When you use liquid detergent like I do, you often wind up with a sticky mess in your laundry room because it drips out of the cap after you pour it into the washing machine. Did you know that you can just toss the whole cap in there, too? My sister-in-law taught me that. The cap is sturdy enough to withstand the washing machine, so you can just add your detergent, and then throw the cap in right along with it. It comes out clean. No more gooey mess!
Wash Baby’s Stuff with Yours ASAP
When I had my first daughter, I did everything by the book, and I remember diligently washing anything that might touch her skin with mild soap (like Dreft) before she was born, and then I continued to keep her laundry separate from ours as she grew older. It became a habit after a while, and I think she was about one before it even occurred to me that I could wash her stuff in regular detergent with all of our things. By the time #4 rolled around, she was wearing things right off the rack (gasp!) without even being washed. I also mixed her things in with everything else when I did laundry right from the start, and you know what? She never broke out into a terrible rash, and the world didn’t cave in! Sure, some babies definitely need the mild detergent if their skin is sensitive, and I don’t mean to minimize that in any way. But if your child isn’t one of those babies, you can save yourself some time by washing things all together. I found it to be so much easier when I could just separate things by colors and not have to separate the baby’s things within that as well.
Musty Towel Smell? Use Hot Water and Add Cup of Vinegar
We got new towels a couple years ago when we updated our bathroom, and it was such a welcome change because we couldn’t stand the musty smell that had overtaken our old towels. But within a year, the musty smell emerged again! Dang it! While my husband was ready to toss the towels and start over yet again in his frustration (apparently musty towels are a pet peeve of his–now I know!), obviously that was ridiculous, and so I started looking online for ways to get the smell out. I kept finding suggestions to use different combinations of baking soda and vinegar in the washing machine. Many suggested that you wash without detergent the first time around (using only baking soda and/or vinegar), and then you had to wash the towels again using detergent. Some sites even recommended that you wash the towels three times, adding something different with each cycle.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stand there and wash my towels 2-3 times. Seems like a waste of water to me, and a waste of my time as well. So, I started washing my towels in HOT water with detergent as normal, and then I’ll add a cup of vinegar into the cycle, too. I don’t do it every single time I wash towels, but I definitely do it if I feel like the musty smell is starting to creep back in. It’s been working for me to keep the musty towel smell at bay, and I like that I just knock it out in one wash like normal–no multiple washes. Pretty simple, and we didn’t have to buy any more new towels. :)
FIND WAYS TO DO LESS LAUNDRY
Use Hooks for Towels–Easier for Kids (and Adults!) and They Dry Better for Reuse
I’m a big fan of using hooks for towels instead of towel bars. I even wrote an entire post about it! We have them now in every bathroom in the house, including our master bathroom. (See even more pictures of the various hooks around our house in this organization post.) It’s so much easier to hang a towel quickly on a hook rather than take time to flatten it out and hang it nicely on a towel bar. If you use the type of hooks that angle upward like this, you can practically throw your towel up into the air in a hurry, and it will still land on the hook! (The more rounded hooks don’t hold things as well, and the towels will slide off unless hung just right.) Furthermore, if you hang your hook rack low enough as shown in the picture, even kids can be responsible for their own towels simply because they can actually reach! (Our hook racks were created by nailing up a board, trimming it out, and then adding hooks after the fact–you could also buy ready-made hook racks. There are many options available here at Oragnize It.)
If your towels are hung on hooks, you can get more towels up off the floor as compared to a towel bar (where you can fit maybe 1-2 towels, depending on the length of the bar), and each towel can dry more thoroughly this way, too. This allows you to use the towels multiple times before you have to wash them. Think about it–when you dry off after your shower or bath, how dirty can a towel get? So if the towel dries while on the hook, why not use it a few times? This will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Use an Over-the-Door Rack for Beach Towels: Designates a Spot and Allows Them to Dry for Use Again
The beach towel situation was out of control at our house before this system emerged. We live in the South, and so we’re constantly at the neighborhood pool in the summer because it’s too hot to do much else! Two of my girls also swim on teams year-round, so there is never a time where I’m not dealing with beach towels. After realizing that wet towels kept ending up on the back of chairs in my kitchen, in a heap on the floor, or outside on the deck railing (where it would then rain or the towels would blow down into the yard), I knew I needed a designated spot just for beach towels. My simple solution was to hang a hook rack over the back of a door in the entryway near our garage where we always come in. Now we don’t walk eight feet before there’s a spot for beach towels. My kids can’t quite reach on their own, but other than that, it’s been a perfect system.
With the towels on the back of the door, they’re able to dry fully (unless there is really a mountain of towels layered on top of one another). When they’re dry, we can grab them on our way out the door and use them again. My house is no longer cluttered with wet beach towels that nobody knows where to put, and I do less laundry because the towels can dry for reuse.
Line Clothing Up for Neater Drawers–Clean Clothes Less Likely to End Up in Laundry
I have just started lining clothing up like this in our drawers, and it has made a world of difference!! Read all about it here in this post I recently wrote. Not only does folding this way allow you to see everything in your drawer at a single glance, but you won’t believe how much more space you’ll create. When I rearranged our clothes, I couldn’t believe all the wasted space we had in most drawers.
My kids are loving this system–they’re no longer frustrated as they dig impatiently through their drawers while looking for something. They’re also wearing a larger variety of their clothing now rather than what was always on top. And it’s easy for them to keep their drawers (relatively) neat this way. When drawers are staying neater like this, clothes are less likely to wind up in a messy pile on the floor because kids (and adults) aren’t having to dig frantically for what they want. Most of our drawers used to look like the “Before” picture in no time even if the clothes started out in neat stacks. If anything fell out of that messy drawer and onto the floor, more often than not, it would surely end up in the laundry because nobody could tell if it was clean or dirty. I know I was washing a lot of clean clothes, and that’s just plain annoying. I will never go back to my old way of stacking things inside drawers. Lining clothes up vertically is so much better for so many reasons!
Simply Wash Less: Teach Kids to Wear Pajamas Multiple Times, Wash Sheets Less Often, etc.
Want to save time on laundry? Simply do less of it. Easy enough, right?
Above, I talk about ways to hang towels so they can dry and you can use them multiple times before washing is needed. I also shared a way to fold things in drawers to cut down on the mess, which ultimately should make it less likely for you to wind up washing clothes that are actually still clean but ended up in the laundry anyhow.
You could also wear things more than once–your bras and pajamas are the first things that come to mind. There’s usually no need to wash those things every single time you wear them. I know some families even have their kids put their pajamas behind their pillow (as shown below) rather than into their drawer. After 2-3 nights, they switch the pajamas out and choose some clean ones. You could also wash your sheets every two weeks instead of weekly. The earth won’t stop spinning because you slept in your sheets for two weeks.
If you’re a self-proclaimed “neat freak” (not me), perhaps this tip isn’t for you. But I know that I’ve learned to give a little here and there, and I’m happier when I’m less overwhelmed. In a lot of ways, that starts with the laundry.
TIPS FOR FOLDING & PUTTING AWAY
Enlist Help with Folding When Possible–Spouse, Kids, Babysitter, etc.
My mom is a really good folder. You’d swear she ironed things, but really, it’s just some seriously good smoothing and folding. That’s apparently worn off on me. I really like when things are folded well, too, and for a long time, that really handcuffed me. I didn’t want anybody to fold our stuff but me because I liked it done a certain way. Well, fast-forward a few years: I still like things folded “my way”, but I’ve decided that I like sleep more. I’ve learned that I simply can’t do everything or I’m a sleep-deprived, stressed-out, moody mess.
I have finally waved the white flag when it comes to folding. Since my fourth daughter was born, I have a regular sitter two mornings a week now most of the time, and it’s heaven. (Why didn’t I do that when all my girls were babies?!) So while I get those hours to go to appointments, run errands alone (so efficient without kids in tow!), and just have a little time for myself, my sitter will typically fold laundry for me. Until recently, my daughter was taking a morning nap while I was gone anyhow, so I think the sitter was actually happy to have something to do. I would get a break from mommyhood, and when I got back, the clothes were actually all folded, too?! This was simply awesome.
I had always hesitated to ask sitters for help in the past because I felt badly asking them to fold, or I felt weird about them having to handle things like underwear! :) But since I don’t fold our underwear anyhow (see below), she just has to toss that aside anyway, and as for the rest of it, I have gotten over being too proud to ask for some assistance! Besides, when I first realized I was going to need some consistent help with #4 arriving, I was upfront about the laundry from the beginning. When she told me she’d be up for working with me, she understood that folding laundry was part of the equation. So she knew what she was getting into right from the start. It’s truly like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m so grateful for the help!! It’s made such a difference in my daily life.
Now is everything always folded exactly as I would do it? Maybe not, but she’s doing a great job, and it’s done!! Even before I had a regular sitter like this, though, my husband and I had started tag-teaming the folding at night while watching TV. It was so much faster when there were two of us.
And now, even my girls (ages 10, 8, and 6) are getting old enough to help. If laundry piles up, I might ask them to have a “folding party” and let them watch a movie while they fold. They’re young, so it’s not going to be the best folding you’ve ever seen, but they get it done, and they’re actually starting to get pretty good at it! (If your kids help you fold, I would suggest that you really try not to fix anything they’ve done. Don’t rattle their confidence–just leave their work as is. They’ll be more likely to help next time without whining–and maybe even do it with a smile–if they feel like you are truly appreciative and proud of their efforts.) I make a big deal out of instilling in my children that our family is a “team”, and we all need to work together to keep the house and the family functioning.
I know not everyone may have someone they can turn to for help with the laundry, but if you are one of those people who can reach out for assistance from your family, sitters, etc., I guess I’m just reassuring you that it’s okay–it doesn’t make you a failure at home! I really wish I would have stopped feeling like I had to “do it all” a long time ago.
Save Folding for Watching TV, Phone Calls, etc. to Pass the Time
Nobody says you have to fold your life away in a dimly-lit, tiny laundry room in the middle of a beautiful day! I know some people like to fold “warm” laundry, but I’m typically very rarely able to fold something right when it comes out of the dryer. If you’re like me, maybe you can save that folding for later when it can be more enjoyable–and step out of the laundry room where you have a TV, light coming in from a sunny window, etc. If you’re a morning person (not me), you can knock out some folding with your coffee while watching the news. If you’re a night person (me), grab a glass of wine and settle in with some good TV in front of you. I often fold while catching up on the phone with my mom–I have a very handy headset phone (I swear by this thing!!), and so I strap that beauty on and pass the time with my mom while the laundry seems to get magically folded in front of me–I’m distracted by the conversation, and I can work quickly with two hands.
This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but I know some people feel like they need to fold laundry in the laundry room right as it comes out of the dryer just because that’s what they’ve always done. It doesn’t have to be that way. Folding can seem much more tolerable if you couple it with something enjoyable.
Don’t Waste Time Folding Certain Things–Toss Them in a Drawer or Basket
In college my roommate asked me one day, “Why do you bother folding your underwear? Isn’t that just a waste of time?” That was a lightbulb moment for me. :) There was no need for folding underwear! It’s not like it can’t get wrinkled. So that was the end of that. As I got older, I also cut corners on things like burp cloths, rags, bras, etc. (I just line up my bras in a row inside my drawer–no more folding.) So if you are taking the energy to neatly fold every little thing, perhaps you can save yourself a few minutes by just piling those things in a bin or drawer.
Family Members Put Their Own Clothing Away–Teach Young Kids to Help
When my kids were really little, I was obviously the only one (aside from my husband) who could put their clothes away, but as they’ve gotten older, I’m trying to expect more of them so they become capable individuals in this world. The laundry fairy doesn’t need to do everything for them where suddenly clean clothes appear in their drawers! Our system now is that the clean clothes get stacked on their beds, but then they are responsible for putting them away. When the clothes are on their beds, they are basically forced to put everything away in order to get into their beds. We are always there to tuck them in and wind up helping them a bit, but in general, they are supposed to be leading the charge here.
My oldest two girls are pretty responsible with this now, and the six-year-old is getting better. Although when this system was first established, she was the queen of taking her pile of clothes and shoving it in the corner of her closet, under her bed, in a single drawer, or (my favorite) in her doll’s bed with a blanket draped over it a-la-Princess-and-the-Pea style, with the doll then set neatly on top of it all. Seriously? Kind of tough to miss that mountain in the corner, but I have to give her points for creativity.
Side note: You can find this bedding here at Serena & Lily. It’s also available in other colors. Love it! :)
Learn How to Fold a Fitted Sheet to Tame the Chaos in Your Linen Closet
Before I learned how to fold a fitted sheet (by watching Martha Stewart demonstrate when she was on Oprah!), I used to start out by trying (badly) to fold it, and eventually I’d get so annoyed that I’d just ball it up and shove it into the linen closet. Well, let’s just say that method isn’t recommended. Not only are your sheets a wrinkled wreck when you go to put them on your bed, but your linen closet can’t exactly hold a lot of sheets that way. It might look time-consuming to fold a fitted sheet well when you look at my step-by-step below, but it’s really not. (I like to fold my sheets on the floor because it’s easier for me to maneuver things.) When you get used to it, it takes all of 90 seconds. Your sheets will be nice and smooth on your bed as a result, and your linen closet will be neater as well.
Keep Matching Sheet Sets Together by Wrapping in Bundles–No More Misplaced Pillowcases
Once you master folding the fitted sheet, it’s all downhill after that. I’m a big fan of taking the fitted sheet, placing the pillowcases on top, and then wrapping the flat sheet around all of it to form a bundle. Then when it’s time to change the sheets, you just grab a bundle, and you’ll know that you have everything you need–no more searching for pillowcases. Just grab and go. (You could also tuck everything inside a pillowcase, but just rolling into a bundle seems faster to me.) Your linen closet will be neater this way, and you’ll be surprised by how many sets of sheets can fit on a single shelf when everything is contained so tightly.
Fold Towels and Sheets in Thirds for More Space and Neater Shelves
It’s certainly not the end of the world if things aren’t folded “just so”, but if you are struggling to find room in your crowded linen closet, drawers, or wherever you keep your sheets and towels, I think you’ll find that more space will be created if you fold things in thirds instead of in half. See how I demonstrated this below. It really does make a huge difference, and everything stacks better, too.
Going on Vacation? Return Home With Clean Laundry When Possible
This is something I never really thought about early in my married life or as a new mom, but while renting a beach house with some other families for a week one summer, my friend commented that she was going to do some laundry so she could return home with clean clothes. I remember telling her that I just piled it all in the suitcase (because I was on vacation after all!), and then I dealt with it all when I got home. She said she used to do that, too, but then she discovered how nice it was to settle in again back home when you could just open your suitcase and put the clean clothes away.
I am now a big believer in doing as much laundry as you can before you return home from a vacation (unless you’re in a hotel, of course). As much as I love being away, it can be so much work to get back into a routine again when you get home–you’ve got to catch up with mail, phone calls, emails, unpacking, going to the grocery store, etc.–not to mention the fact that your kids are probably a sleep-deprived mess after being on a trip. It really is so nice to take (at least some of) the laundry out of that equation. So now when we stay with relatives or anywhere with a washer and dryer, I always try to do some laundry before packing up. It really does make life easier.
Building, Renovating, Buying a House? It’s Handy to Have Laundry Room on Same Floor as Bedrooms
When we first bought our house here in the South, I remember thinking that it was weird that the laundry room was on the second floor with the bedrooms (and therefore, the bathrooms). Where I come from in the North, the laundry room was typically in the basement (we don’t even have a basement here) or maybe off the kitchen or the entrance to the garage/back-door. But I had never seen a laundry room upstairs before at the time.
Well, now I absolutely love the location of our laundry room! I’ve come to see how handy it is to have the laundry room near the bedrooms and bathrooms because, simply put, that’s where the laundry is! All the clothes, sheets, and towels come from the bedrooms and bathrooms. I never have to carry heavy, awkward laundry baskets up and down the stairs. I can even push my handy laundry sorter from our master bedroom right down the hallway into the laundry room. The only things I ever have to carry up and down the stairs are the kitchen towels and rags, and maybe some beach towels.
So if you ever find yourself building a home, renovating, or buying a house, perhaps this is an idea you can keep in your back pocket. I was surprised by how convenient the laundry room’s location was–I never would have thought to build the house this way myself, but it definitely makes my life easier.
You Spend a Lot of Time in Your Laundry Room–Make it a Happier Place!
Let’s face it, laundry can be miserable. We all spend a lot of time in the laundry room whether we like it or not. So why not make it a happier place? Last year I hung up this picture from our wedding where everybody is jumping, and the laundry room immediately felt like a brighter place. It makes me smile every time I look at it, and it always conjures up good memories–not to mention the fact that this picture is filled with some of the people we love most in this world! I enjoy getting to see their smiling faces each day.
If you take a moment to look around your laundry room, you might find that it’s actually a pretty depressing place. No wonder we’re in a bad mood when we have to do the laundry! Maybe you could change the paint to a brighter color; add some interesting knobs to your cabinetry (I used to have some cute ones that were little shirts, pants, etc.); apply some fun wall decals; or hang up some pictures or posters like I did here. No wall space for things like that? You could even paint exposed beams or pipes a fun color. If you think outside the box, perhaps your laundry room might seem a bit more inviting! You can’t make the laundry go away, so you might as well choose to be happy while doing it!
Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got when it comes to the laundry! :) My system is constantly evolving, but over the last year or so, I feel like I have finally tamed the laundry beast in my life. I don’t feel defeated by it anymore. It gets done faster and with less effort, and I have more time to do other things.
What laundry tips do you swear by?
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This post was written as a sponsored post for Organize-It. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.